Sunday, February 19, 2012

Signal Watch President's Day!: William Henry Harrison (Number 9)

This President's Day we talk our Nation's* 9th President, William Henry Harrison.

President Harrison was born in 1773 in Virginia, son of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  He would be elected President in 1840, and attain fame among generations of school children perusing their textbooks to be shocked at the dates next to Harrison's name, and the reputation as "the guy who died right after taking office".

Which, of course, is true.  After an illustrious career as a member of the US Congress (from what was then called the Northwest Territory), Governor of the territory of Indiana and with an honorable military record, including his role as the General at the Battle of Tippecanoe with the Shawnee and his leadership during the War of 1812, Harrison would find himself nominated twice for the office of President.

During his second turn at running for office under the Whig banner, in 1840 Harrison successfully campaigned as a bit of a good old boy, played up the Tippecanoe angle, which you may recall from the "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" campaign slogan, and did very well, especially in the electoral college.

March 4th of 1841 Harrison took office.  By March 26th he fell ill with a cold which spiraled into pneumonia.  Harrison died on April 4th, 1841.

For a full history of what befell Harrison and why, I invite you review this video:

In his short term in office, some which was spent ill, Harrison did not manage to achieve much other than to make appointments.  He would be succeeded by his Vice President, John Tyler, most famous for being the first President to take office because the elected President had died, and for later joining and serving in the Congress of the Confederacy.  He was also in office when Texas joined the United States.

Alas, poor William Henry Harrison.  A colorful career as a servant to his country, repaid with a somewhat goofy campaign slogan you learned in Junior High and for becoming a cautionary tale as to why one should keep out of the rain.

*for those of us in the good 'ol US of A!

1 comment:

Jake Shore said...

Did you know his grandson is still alive?